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    Posted June 24, 2013 by
    Arlington, Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    What was your best internship?

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    My Journey at Ashoka


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Ayah Abo-Basha, 20, is a summer intern with Ashoka Innovators for the Public in Arlington, Virginia. She says she most enjoys the freedom and responsibility afforded to her by the program: 'I would say there's just enough structure; where you have the footwork in place to make those connections with other interns, but you're still working on your own.'
    - jccarp, CNN iReport producer

    My journey with Ashoka began upon embarking on my junior year at Washington University in St. Louis where I am a member of the Richard A. Gephardt Civic Scholars Program.The program provides a cohort of seven juniors with intensive leadership training while challenging them to design a summer project that enables them to become their best selves and prepares them for a lifetime of public service. While researching the intersection of civic sector participation, social entrepreneurship, and community development, I became drawn to one theme in particular: local changemaking with a global impact. Such intentional reflection and research led me to a global network of like-minded social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs from across the globe: Ashoka Innovators for the Public.

    During the internship selection process, the Ashoka Search Team diligently worked to craft a summer that would enrich my previous experiences of working alongside the nonprofit sector in Egypt with a nuancing global perspective. They therefore paired me with two corresponding accountability partners: Julie Wiscombe, the Middle East North Africa Liaison who communicates with Ashoka Arab World in Cairo and Elena Correas, director of Global Venture and Fellowship.

    However, aside from tailoring a position that complements interns' academic and civic interests, perhaps the most valuable opportunity presented to summer associates is in the form of a simple "invite" button embedded within each intern's outlook calendar. This seemingly trivial feature opens the gateway to valuable conversations with members of the entire Ashoka staff network- from our assigned accountability partners, to members of other Ashoka teams including Ashoka Youth Venture or Ashoka Empathy, to Bill Drayton, the CEO and founder himself. As a rising senior who is making transitional decisions about my future career paths, simply grabbing lunch or coffee with various Ashoka team members has transformed what can be a daunting decision-making obstacle course into a safe playground where I can more freely and confidently toy with evolving career interests. One specific meeting with Maria Clara Pinheiro regarding Ashoka's Global diaspora initiative deeply resonated with me on a personal level as I reflected on my experiences as an Egyptian American. I came out of the disucssion inspired to pursue a senior thesis in anthropology upon returning to WashU to further explore the role of diaspora communities in the civic sectors of both their new and native countries.

    …And this is only two weeks into my internship! I can't wait to see how the rest of my Ashoka summer unfolds.

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